First Festival for Arabic and Mediterranean Cinema, Tripoli | Ben Boubaker Youssef, Elizabeth Grech
First Festival for Arabic and Mediterranean Cinema, Tripoli
Ben Boubaker Youssef   

First Festival for Arabic and Mediterranean Cinema, Tripoli | Ben Boubaker Youssef, Elizabeth GrechMarginalised for decades in Libya, culture is regaining its former glory thanks to the wind of freedom blowing across the country in the wake of the Arab Spring. Thus, next June, the city of Tripoli will be hosting the very first Festival for Arabic and Mediterranean Cinema dedicated to the “Arab Spring”.

To mark the resumption of cultural and artistic life in Libya, the country’s new authorities aspire to give back the capital city of Tripoli, its role in the Arab and Mediterranean cultural landscape by approving the organisation of a film festival celebrating Arabic and Mediterranean cinema.

Made at a time when the country is bubbling with the preparation of the country’s first democratic elections scheduled for the 19th of June 2012, the announcement of this Festival shows the willingness of the Libyans to transcend all challenges to normalise their country’s political and social life.

They resolutely want to turn towards the future and do their utmost to help their country recover its place the nations of the world.
Dedicated to Arabic and Mediterranean cinema, this first festival will be held in June in the capital city of Tripoli. According to the Libyan cultural newspaper “Miadeen”, the festival will be organised by the Ministry of Culture and Civil Society.

This Festival will the first of its kind in Libya and will feature films and short films dealing with the Arab Spring. The choice if the first theme of this first edition is therefore focused on this movement of revolt that shook many Arab countries, deposing dictatorial regimes and freeing people from the yoke of oppression, tyranny and single thought.

Often initiated by young people who were the main instigators of these movements through the use of social networks, this surge of revolt has claimed the dignity, freedom and democracy of universal values that are intrinsically linked to human rights.

Experts of the Libyan cultural scene believe that this choice is a symbolic one given the agonies that culture and art suffered during Kadhafi’s reign that was solely inspired by the Green Book.
Culture was marginalised. Despite the riche traditional heritage and the ancient Libyan civilisation and culture, no artistic or cultural event of national or international scope was ever held.

The country’s geographical position, at the crossroads of civilisations between the Arab world and Europe and between Africa and the West, explain the fact that Libya will play a privileged role in the Mediterranean’s cultural dialogue.

First Festival for Arabic and Mediterranean Cinema, Tripoli | Ben Boubaker Youssef, Elizabeth Grech

For this first session, the Festival’s competitions will focus on documentary films and short films with the aim of including feature films in the coming years.
A preparatory committee has been established to ensure the selection of films and the competition programme. Three awards have been planned besides the prize for the best artistic contribution.

According to our sources, on the sidelines of the official competition film clubs and artistic associations will be giving other awards. The festival biggest award will be called the “Golden Silvium”, the name of a plant that grows in Libya since Greek times. Two other awards, in silver and in bronze will be given to the winners of both competition categories.

The Festival will also feature an event called “Panorama”, dedicated to Mediterranean films and the screening of feature films and other short films made by young Libyans.

The Libyan critic and filmmaker, Ramadan Slim will preside this Festival organised by the Ministry of Culture and Civil Society.

This even will undoubtedly contribute to the revival of Libyan cultural life after the 42 years under the former regime. To the delight of a thirsty audience, Libyan artists are already thinking of other festivals to organise in other artistic fields such as music, painting and theatre.



Ben Boubaker Youssef
Translated from French by Elizabeth Grech
13/06/2012